But a much younger Huyke was convinced theater was her life's mission, and she traveled from Puerto Rico to New Orleans to study acting.
Between rehearsals, she worked at the legendary Lee Barnes Cooking School, where she met chefs like Paul Prudhomme, whom she says later opened doors for her.
"Theater relies on a lot of people," says Huyke, 54. "But in the kitchen, you prepare something good, you give it to someone ... and they give you something back in their facial reaction as they're savoring it. That for me is unique. That is catharsis."
After owning a restaurant, writing a food column and starting a family, she turned to TV, where her acting savvy proved a plus in her cooking show. After all, she says, "The star of a cooking show is going to be the plate."